The Volokh Conspiracy

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Donald Trump's Other Removal Proceeding in Palm Beach

The Palm Beach Attorney Suggested That Donald Trump Can Live at Mar-a-Lago as a Club Employee


Since January 20, President Trump has lived at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. However, Trump's neighbors contend that he is violating a 1993 covenant. It provides that members of the club cannot live there for more than three, non-consecutive weeks per year.

The use of guest suites shall be limited to a maximum of three (3) non-consecutive seven (7) day periods by any one member during the year.

I wrote about this agreement in December. On Tuesday, the Palm Beach Town Council held a hearing on whether Trump's residency was proper. Yes, as Trump was being tried in the Senate, his neighbors were trying to expel him.

The Times reports on the proceedings:

On Tuesday, as Mr. Trump's second impeachment trial began in the U.S. Senate, the Palm Beach Town Council met via Zoom to discuss if Mr. Trump was in violation of a 1993 agreement that allowed him to convert his Mar-a-Lago estate from a private residence into a moneymaking club.

Lawyers for preservationists and some of his neighbors argued that the agreement required Mar-a-Lago to operate as a social club that no one could live in.

"This issue threatens to make Mar-a-Lago into a permanent beacon for his more rabid, lawless supporters," Philip C. Johnston, a lawyer for the group called Preserve Palm Beach, said, referring to Mr. Trump.

The town attorney, John C. Randolph, opined that nothing in the agreement specifically prohibited Mr. Trump from using the property as his residence — if, as the club's president, Mr. Trump is considered a Mar-a-Lago employee.

"The language in the agreement regulating the use of guest suites to members for limited periods of time is not applicable to this situation," Mr. Randolph said.

The Town Council did not take a vote. But it was clear that members had no appetite to pick a fight with the former president, if he even wants to live here year-round. South Florida shows off in February, but less so in August.

"It does not appear to me that there has been a violation," said Margaret A. Zeidman, the council president.

It is not clear whether 2/3 of the Town Council is willing to convict and disqualify Trump.